Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

A Whale of a Tale

February 6, 2009

In what is becoming an annual high seas showdown, an anti-whaling protest ship and Japanese whaling vessel collided in the Southern Ocean on Friday, with each side then pointing fingers and trying to send videos to media quickly from the remote battleground.

No one was injured, but the Japanese ship suffered slight damage in the collision between the Sea Shepherd ship and the Yushin Maru 2, as the harpoon-carrying vessel attempted to transfer a dead whale up the factory ship Nisshin Maru’s slipway.

In a replay of previous confrontations, Japanese officials described the incident as “unforgivable violence”. Earlier, the anti-whaling group threw bottles of acid and put ropes in the water to tangle up the whaling ships’ propellers.


Earlier this week, the International Whaling Commission published proposals for resolving the long-standing deadlock between pro- and anti-whaling nations, but both sides expressed doubt that the ideas wouldbear fruit.

Japan said it could not accept a proposal that would mean the end of what it calls its research whaling in the Antarctic. The chairman of an IWC panel suggested allowing Japan to hunt whales in its own coastal areas in return for cutting back or ending the Antarctic programme.

Japan officially complied with a 1986 global moratorium on commercial whaling, but continued the hunt for what it says are scientific purposes. Most of the meat ends up on dinner tables in a practice that angers many in countries such as Australia and Britain, who see whaling as cruel and unnecessary.

The new proposal would allow up to five ships to hunt minke whales on day trips from four Japanese ports for a period of five years. After that, coastal whaling might either continue or be halted altogether.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/Adam Lau/Handout

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